Haven’t done one of these in forever.
After School – Flashback
This poor group, they are completely no fun to watch anymore. The team has no chemistry together as a group now, due to the semi-annual addition of useless members. Their songs are more and more about doling out lines to members according to popularity. Jungah is the new leader and all, but has always gotten zero respect from her group post-Uee. The group is now a clusterfuck of girls who fight for their own survival and individual popularity, and why would they do otherwise anyway? There is no love and camaraderie. It’s impossible to build it anyway. You build it with your group members, and then a new girl comes in, and everything has to be reshuffled, and girls who already get no spotlight get even less of one now. Everyone is bitter and After School’s popularity has never taken off like I thought it would, so they can’t even enjoy success.
How did Morning Musume ever function like this?! Why was this graduation method ever brought over to K-pop?!
BAP – No Mercy
I find that BAP’s music keeps trying to punch me in the face, and after 3 singles in 7 months, I’m bruised enough. BAP is the best 2012 debut so far, but if they don’t slow down and reconsider their image, I’m afraid all we’ll ever get are songs that try to define musical legitimacy, and ones that do so through the defense and pursuit of a specific kind of masculinity. Which is tiring, and a huge turnoff.
I don’t listen to “No Mercy” ever outside of watching the performances because I don’t think it’s a very inspired song, and definitely a second redux of “Warrior.” I do like that it’s lighter than “Warrior” and “Power,” both songs that I find can be very alienating. I never watched “Warrior” and “Power” performances because I find that you either really like the concepts of those two songs, or you tire of them very easily, and I belong in the latter camp. I do like that “No Mercy” has more playful elements to it. I wish that the samulnori instrumentation were built into the song all throughout instead of being used one-off in the dance break. It would’ve made the song much more interesting.
Wooyoung – Sexy Lady
Watching Wooyoung’s “Sexy Lady” performances has been a labor of love. I don’t know why I keep doing it. Maybe due to one-time loyalty to Wooyoung. Wooyoung’s solo is a good example of popularity guiding business decisions, with no consideration of musical abilities.
Wooyoung is not good enough, period. This track also doesn’t do him any favors. The choreography is absurdly and unnecessarily over-involved and rigorous. Wooyoung has always had breathing problems and he’s mostly a heaving, sweaty mess by the song’s end, singing half of his lines, leaving the other half to vocal backtrack. His voice is flat and colorless, making this third-rate basement club song even more third-rate.
Meanwhile, the Junbros continue to languish and die in JYP Entertainment’s dusty cage of unpopular-but-talented idols.
Sistar – Loving U
Sistar is having a good year. “Loving U” is a funny and catchy follow-up to “Alone.” It lets them promote and stay in the public’s view, but the song’s easy enough that they don’t have to keel over in the process of promoting.
My problem with Sistar is that their CEO absolutely refuses to not sell this group as sex objects. This is a light summer love song, but of fucking course there needs to be sixty pelvic gyrations built into the chorus, and this following the insanely creep choreo that went with “Alone.” Let’s also not forget the misery that was “Ma Boy.” They’re not the only girl group who has to pretend like they’re innocent while trying to sell sex, but it does seem that they’re one of the more popular groups whose choreography exists solely to service the male gaze. I can’t think of another girl group who has to push sex this overtly while singing songs that are mostly about puppy love.
Beast – It’s Not Me, Beautiful Night
I love “It’s Not Me.” I wish they promoted this as a follow-up instead of pairing it off with “Beautiful Night” for the first week only. The song is in everyone’s range and this does so much for improving the group’s lives, which are already pretty impeccable.
“Beautiful Night” is … whatever. Typical party song that seems too lazy to be a Beast title track. It just goes and goes and goes until it stops. I don’t really have a lot to say about this song, except that I’m disappointed that they traveled all the way to New York and all I got was that stupid music video. And that I’m really tired of Kikwang’s Taeyang schtick.
Psy – Kangnam Style
“Kangnam Style” is insanely fun and catchy and it’s like watching a huge party in motion every time Psy performs. But let’s also be real: this song is a hotbed of sexist dictations of gender roles and expectations. It’s something you can completely ignore though — like I have — until I watched today’s performance that featured Sistar, Kara, and After School. Everyone comes up to do the chorus with Psy at least once before they all take the stage together and the visual is startling. Psy is this megapimp and all these girls are his objects.
BoA – Shadow, Only One
I’m still in awe of this choreography. It’s so “So You Think You Can Dance”-ish. This is the kind of choreo that properly utilizes BoA’s skills as a dancer. Her work for the past few years don’t do her abilities justice at all, and especially not “Hurricane Venus.” This is the kind of performance I’ve been waiting for.
Unfortunately, it also seems like this dance is way harder than it appears, seeing as she looks like she was dying after practice in the behind-the-scenes footage released with BoA 4534. I’m so accustomed to BoA the Robot that I’m more than surprised “Only One” seems to be that hard for her. Maybe even a little worried.
I won’t bitch about all the dancers in the music video being replaced by the ever annoying BeatBurger that needs to take a break IMMEDIATELY from choreographing 95% of SM’s stuff. Instead, I’ll talk about how unsatisfactory Yunho — and to a lesser extent, Taemin — was at doing the couple dance. Barring the first few months when I got into DBSK and everything seemed to be magic and crack, Yunho as a dancer has been an eyesore to me. He over-dances, over-emotes, over-exists entirely. There’s something about the way he moves I really don’t enjoy watching. It might be because this style of dance is completely not congruent to his own, and he has none of the finesse and subtlety that it requires, and it’s so glaring when he’s paired with someone as petite and silky a dancer as BoA.
Taemin, on the other hand, is better. He’s a lithe dancer, whose movements are softer and more graceful than anything Yunho can pull off. But I mean, that’s not all there is to dancing. Visually, BoA and Taemin as a pair are unconvincing, and their lack of chemistry is pretty palpable, which takes away from the performance for me. Then there’s the subjective part in this: I just feel zero when I watch Taemin dance.
I would actually really love to see Kai do this dance with BoA but this will not happen for possibly another half a decade, so until then, bring MV guy back??